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January 5, 2016
An Israeli legal group has accused Facebook of favoring Palestinians over Israelis following an experiment it conducted using two phony Facebook groups with nearly identical content but with the words “Jews/Israelis” and “Arabs/Palestinians” swapped.
Shurat HaDin posted a video showing highlights of what it called “The Big Facebook Experiment,” which it believes shows that Facebook’s claims of equal treatment for users “are at best erroneous and false in the worst case.”
How did the experiment work? The legal group said it created two Facebook pages last week — one named “Stop Israelis” and the other “Stop Palestinians.”
On Dec. 29, the group began uploading content inciting violence on each page, slowly ratcheting up the violent words and imagery in each, including use of the phrases “death to all the Arabs” and “death to all the Jews.”
For example, the anti-Israel page had a cartoon showing a crocodile with a Star of David with the Al-Aqsa mosque inside its mouth accompanied with the phrase “death to all the Jews.”
Another post had a photo of a Jewish funeral accompanied by the words, “This is how we want to see all Israelis. Death to Israel!”
The anti-Palestinian page called for war on the “Palestinian enemy.”
“More and more soldiers in the IDF know that there is a need to destroy the Arab enemy,” an anti-Arab post read.
After loading the content, the group reported both pages to Facebook.
The day the complaint was filed, the page inciting against Arabs was shut down. The group received a Hebrew language message from Facebook that read, according to a translation via Shurat HaDin, “We reviewed the page you reported for containing credible threat of violence and found it violates our community standards.”
The page inciting against Jews was left active.
Even though it contained nearly identical content, Shurat HaDin said that Facebook replied that the anti-Israel page had not violated any rules.
Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, head of Shurat Hadin, said in a statement quoted by the Jewish Press, “The in-depth investigation we conducted proves beyond any shadow of a doubt that [Facebook’s] claims of equality in the face of its conduct against any individual or group of people are at best erroneous and false in the worst case.”
“Jews and Israelis around the world should be very concerned over the results of the investigation and understand that the most famous social network in the world is working actively in favor of the Palestinians,” she added.
The legal nonprofit is currently engaged in a lawsuit against Facebook over claims the social media giant allows Palestinians to post violent content that incites deadly attacks on Israelis.
Social media posts calling for violence against Israelis have been flooding Palestinian social media ever since a wave of nearly daily stabbing, shooting and car-ramming attacks against Israelis began in September.
“One of the significant characteristics of the current terror wave is the incitement on the social media networks, headed by Facebook,” Shurat HaDin said on its website.
“This incitement consists of the Facebook pages of many young Palestinians who inflame their friends to embark on terrorist attacks, provocative videos glorifying and encouraging terrorist attacks, instructions for terrorists ‘How to Carry out a Terrorist Attack’ — all on Facebook,” Shurat HaDin added.
Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.